When you were younger, did you ever take a magnifying glass and direct the sun’s rays on a dried leaf or a piece of paper until it started to smoke and then caught fire? That is an example of focus, concentrating and directing effort and energy on a particular thing until the desired result is achieved. This example involves focusing the energy of the sun on a particular spot, but the principle can be applied to other situations.
When we first try to be successful at a certain activity, such as hitting or catching a ball or running or jumping, we work to develop and maintain focus on a particular activity with the intent of developing skill at a particular activity. This focusing of our energy and effort on a specific objective teaches us the concentration and other skills we need to develop patterns of behavior that lead us to success.
Sometimes this effort at focus becomes all consuming. Young people who spend their early lives in preparation for events such as the Olympics, a career as a professional dancer, musician or some intellectually demanding focus, such as law or medicine, have an understanding of the concentration of time and effort it takes to achieve success in areas such as these. Actually, success in anything such as academics, career and relationships requires focus to achieve success.
Another way to look at focus has to do with how we view the circumstances of our lives. Some of us focus on other people and their needs. These people see every situation in terms of what effect any thought, word or action will have on someone else. Such a person puts others ahead of themselves so naturally that others are drawn to them and thrive and grow in their presence like a flower in sunshine and rain. Others see the beauty of the flower, often not realizing what went into making it that way.
Some people seem to only be able to focus their time, effort and energy on themselves. “Me” is the focus of everything they do and say. These may be good people who live their lives totally oblivious to the needs and desires of others. Their problems and frustrations are always center stage. Lack of awareness of what is happening in someone else’s life is characteristic of someone focused on themselves.
This difference of focus among people is one of the things that makes life both interesting and challenging. Sometimes I believe the focus we have is a natural part of who we are. The challenge comes in accepting that other people may have a different focus. We are not all Olympic champions, musicians or any other of the many occupations that call for a special focus.
As we move forward, it can be beneficial to think about what is happening in our lives to consider our focus. It can also help us understand and accept people with a different focus to appreciate that our focus is neither good nor bad. It is simply different. This understanding can also be helpful if we ever want to alter our focus. Understanding ourselves and others can go a long way toward happiness.If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.
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